Duty free stores may be closed and travel halted but Miami-based distribution company Essence Corp is more connected than ever to its customers, its brands, its Beauty Advisors and even consumers.
The renowned beauty company that represents such brands as Versace, Rituals, Hermès, the whole Interparfums portfolio, and many other global marques, has ramped up its digital communications using all the latest tools and techniques that social media has to offer.
Under the expert direction of Maria Ninfa Alvarez, Essence Corp’s Sr. International Trainer – TR Americas, the company has been conducting a stream of highly effective communications that run the gamut from trainings to Master Beauty classes.
“We are making a great effort to keep being connected, digitally present and of course, keep our brands more relevant than ever,” Alvarez tells TMI.
Although Essence Corp’s virtual communications have taken a giant leap forward during the current coronavirus pandemic, the company has been using digital tools to stay connected long before the current crisis, says Gabi Medeiros Humbles, Essence Corp’s Executive Director of Marketing.
“For Essence Corp, it has always been very important be present in digital. It’s even more important to stay connected to our clients, beauty advisors and customers since traveling has been affected. Digital communication has been our best ally to have them engaged with our brands and to keep the same dynamic as always.
Virtual trainings and Instagram Lives have been our best assets and it can only get our communication and close brand relationships stronger,” explains Humbles.
“Essence Corp has always been using digital but now we are focusing on it more,” explains Alvarez. “Our aim has always been to be connected, connected to our clients, connected to our BAs, connected to the people who love our brands and want to know more about them.
“We wanted to develop the way we were connecting with these people. We have been doing Zoom trainings that focused more on the sales people, on the team, or for the client’s teams, like marketing and administration, etc. But the idea is to connect even more with our retailers’ clients. And this is very spontaneous. Many people are spending a lot of time at home because of lockdowns.
So we are going with these platforms – like Instagram Lives – that are very good tools and people really like the way they can respond interactively. They can ask questions, they can comment, they can tell you what they like the most about the brand. Some people who did not know the brand, fall in love with it after participating in one of our sessions.”
Operators such as London Supply in Argentina, UltraFemme in Mexico, Motta/Attenza in Panama or distributor Fontaine in Canada invite customers through their own social media platforms. The invitees are followers of these accounts.
Instagram use has surged since the lockdowns, says Alvarez. “Like all of our client companies, I have increased the number of my followers on Instagram significantly since the lockdown. People are spending much more time looking at these platforms. The stores are closed so in some cases, Instagram is the only way the retailers can stay in touch with their customers.”
Some operators are able to promote and sell online. But even those not able to sell online want to keep communicating about their brands and stay in contact with their end users, says Alvarez.
Alvarez further enhances these live to the consumer virtual events by inviting special guests and popular influencers to join her.
“These guests make everything more fun,” says Alvarez. “The influencer gets products and she shares her experience with the brand, telling me what she especially liked, and why. I give the technical details, but my influencer guest communicates her experience. She talks to me like we are having a conversation.”
In one recent session held for BardeBelleza in Mexico (local market), Alvarez spoke with popular TV anchorwoman and influencer Daniela Baeza about the world of Versace fragrances, discussing the fragrances and replying in real time to comments and questions from listeners. Other sessions have taken place for UltraFemme with an influencer in Cancun talking about Rituals, and for Eximben (Vicencio Perfumerias) speaking about Rituals with a Chilean influencer.
A special guest is more likely to be from the brand, as was the case for two Montblanc Instagram Live sessions Alvarez held with Attenza and DFA in Panama. Her guest was Pierre Yves Bianchi, LATAM Supervisor for brand owner Interparfums.
“My guest represented the house that makes the fragrance. We both spoke to the audience.”
These sessions are a service that Essence is providing for its clients, despite not being able to travel, says Alvarez. They are in addition to more traditional trainings for the sales forces that cover all the brands, which are also taking place on Zoom.
Coming in November, Essence Corp will begin conducting two Master Classes in Mexico and Panama local markets on Zoom, designed for the end users.
Essence has created these specific programs to stay in contact with its customers and clients on all levels.
“Now more than ever this is our main focus. To be connected with our Beauty Advisors, with our clients, and even with our client’s end users.
“We have taken the challenge very seriously to go farther in communication using social media. Just because we cannot travel does not mean we will forget about being connected. It is very important for this to be fun and dynamic and absolutely engaging. It is a program we will be continuing,” notes Alvarez.